Excuses to Fix Breakfast


eileen_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title Excuses to Fix Breakfast
Synopsis Eileen maintains that she doesn't need any and Raith enjoys some hot coffee shortly before daybreak. Vignette.
Date March 14, 2010

Old Dispensary: Ground Floor

At six-thirty in the morning, the sky is still dark and the songbirds taking shelter in the threadbare trees outside the Dispensary have yet to greet the sun rising in the east with their shrill vocalizations. Inside, things are much the same except for the kitchen where Eileen is getting an early start on breakfast in front of the old cast iron stove with a shortwave radio tuned to a classical listening station to keep her company while she works.

The tinny sound of a viola solo struggling to be heard over static interference fills the kitchen and competes with the sizzle of chicken livers and chopped red onions frying up in the bottom of a pan greased with salted butter and lard. Water for tea boils in a kettle on an adjacent burner, but there's also a strong pot of coffee brewing on the counter for those who, like Raith, prefer it over Eileen's personal choice.

She has the bad habit of smoking while she eats, so it's probably not surprising to find her smoking while she cooks, a lit cigarette pinched in the corner of her mouth as she gives the pan a stir with her wooden spatula and turns down the heat to prevent the Remnant's breakfast from burning.

Six thirty may be early for some, but for the vast majority of the Remnant, at least, it's a completely reasonable time to be awake. It's perfectly reasonable for Jensen Raith, who has actually been up since slightly before six, and he would encourage everyone else to try it, provided they don't have a late night. When he wanders down from the dispensary's second floor to the smell of frying meat and onions and coffee, it's after some brief and simple but invigorating exercise and he is ready to face what the day throws at him. Probably more snow.

"Goooood mornin', Staten Island!" he exclaims upon entering the kitchen, regardless of the conflict between his apparent mood and the music played on the radio, before almost immediately settling for much more subdued, and appropriate, "Morning Eileen, what's the story?" Without missing a beat, he beelines straight for the pot of coffee, although he doesn't immediately grab a cup to start pouring. It might not be ready yet, after all.

"Morning," Eileen returns, her voice a rough croak that has nothing to do with the number of cigarettes she consumes on a daily basis or the one she's now maneuvering between her fingers at the knuckle, careful not to flake off any ash into the pan. Six-thirty isn't particularly early for her either, but the dark circles under her eyes, the pink rims around them and her wild tangle of brown-black hair all contribute to making her look as tired as she sounds.

Her mouth crooks into a rueful smile. "Sunday market today," she says, turning off the heat altogether. "There's a list of provisions for the next two weeks out on the table. I have some books I need to drop off at Summer Meadows, and I promised Colette I'd take a look at Else. Do you think you could handle the shopping for me?"

"I think I can handle that," is Raith's simple response. A lack of attempted interception on Eileen's part tells him that the coffee is ready to be consumed whenever he is, and so he pulls two heavy mugs from the cupboards, one for each of them. Late arrivals will be dealt with as they arrive. "You think the market's even going to be opened with this weather? Feels cold enough to freeze the generators. Which it won't, on account of them being in the basement." Fair question, but one that Raith seems content to leave unanswered while he pours himself a good cup of black coffee. "Is this that instant garbage I've been drinking for the past month?"

"Canal Street should be." Eileen punctuates her statement with the scrape of the spatula against the bottom of the pan as she measures out what she estimates is a quarter of the liver-and-onion mixture onto a white ceramic plate that already has a fat dollop of stewed nectarines drizzled in heavy cream on it along with a thick slice of plain potato bread meant to be consumed with the main dish itself. "It's Colombian," she says of the coffee. "Thought you deserved to indulge in a small luxury or two."

"It's the little things in life that matter," Raith replies, "And if you ask me, few things matter more than a cup of hot, black coffee. Cheers." The drink is raised in a mock toast before some of it is sipped, still too hot to be gulped. "You're in a strangely good mood today, I couldn't help but notice. What's the occasion? Finally gone nuts and decided to move to Minnesota? Ready to become a viking? Or did they start you on new meds? or… what?"

Eileen bends at the waist, opening the oven beneath the stove, and slides the still-spitting pan inside so the food doesn't lose any of its warmth while it waits for the Dispensary's remaining two residents to wake up and make their way downstairs — assuming Teodoro hasn't already. The Englishwoman did not look in on him before she started breakfast a little more than an hour ago. She hasn't changed out of her satin nightgown either, and instead wears a borrowed sweater pulled over it for extra protection against the cold. It's too expensive for them to be running the furnace, but if the weather continues to degenerate they might not have much of a choice.

"Since when have I needed an excuse to fix you breakfast?" she asks as she stands back up, takes a brisk drag from her cigarette and pushes Raith's plate across the counter to him with her left hand, the one not wrapped in bandages.

"Hey, not saying you need one, small fry," Raith replies while he accepts his plate with a free hand, setting his coffee down on the counter next to it while he goes to fish out flatware. "But given the temperature these days, I would say that standing over a hot stove is a pretty good excuse to make me breakfast. Or make anyone breakfast. Don't you think so? I do. Although you might find that pants go a long way towards keeping you warm, also." Almost anything, really, would go a long way towards keeping warm in this weather, as evidenced by many of the dispensary's windows, even the ones in rooms that are typically locked or otherwise shut and unused, having sheets of cloth or plastic taped over them. Anything for insulation.

"Maybe I'm not cold." Eileen takes the kettle off the stove and pours its contents into the mug Raith pulled down for her. Unless he drastically reorganized the kitchen in her absence — and so far she's run into very few difficulties when it comes to finding what she's looking for — then there should still be teabags in one of the smaller metal tins she used to keep in one of the higher cupboards. "It isn't so terrible," she says, up on the tips of her toes as she creaks open the cupboard and goes rummaging. Although she prefers her tea loose at the sacrifice of convenience, they're out of that variety and have been since before last November; undoubtedly, it's one of the items on the provisions list she directed him to earlier. "Have you enough blankets up in your room?"

"Enough to live with, sure, although there's things other than blankets that'd make the nights even better." What those other things might be are presently left as a mystery as Raith opts instead to take a bite of his breakfast. Chicken livers might not normally be at the top of the list most people have for foods they'd like to eat, but the ex-spy isn't complaining. The flavor might not be anything special, but liver is packed with iron and vitamin A, and it sure beats eating MREs and surplus Calorie Mate bars. "Eating something hot would do it. Not sure how you'd eat all night long, though. Too tiring."

The cupboards clap shut. Eileen, teabag dangling by its string from the same fingers holding her cigarette, eases herself back down onto her heels and without looking at Raith plops it into the water. The teabag, that is — not the cigarette, though one wonders if she'd even be able to taste the difference. "We ought to consider investing in some kerosene heaters," she suggests, tapping ash into the porcelain tray she usually keeps in her room.

If he didn't know better, Raith might think Eileen was planning on sticking around.

"Wouldn't it be cheaper just to run some electric heaters off one of the generators?" Raith asks between bites. "I'm just asking. I don't know what the price of kerosene is versus diesel, and if you don't, then that's something worth looking into." If Eileen is thinking of staying, Raith isn't contesting her train of thought. She's a big girl, after all, and in any case, it's safer on the island than it is elsewhere in the city as long as Sylar is running around unchecked. "There's also the exhaust to take into account. The ventilation up in our racks isn't great, don't forget. Cross that bridge when we get to it, maybe."

Not the only bridge that needs to be crossed, either. Eileen's going to be busy for the day, and that means that Raith has to be the one to go shopping, prompting him to migrate to the table with his food and coffee to inspect the list. As expected, a mix of things familiar and things unusual from an American perspective, although nothing terribly puzzling for Raith. The only puzzle he faces comes from the weather: Although the Remnant has a usable pickup truck, it barely runs in good weather. If the forecast doesn't change soon, they might have to invest more money in heating oil for the furnace. But if the forecast doesn't change soon, staying warm might rapidly become the least of their worries.

No weapon in their arsenal stands a chance against Mother Nature.

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